-- With students across the country heading back to school, the often dreaded list of back-to-school supplies can certainly weigh heavy on parents’ wallets.
But consumer expert Lisa Lee Freeman has great secrets to scoring the best deals on school supplies, clothes and tech gadgets.
Where are the best deals?
“Try dollar stores,” she told ABC News. “In addition to walk-in dollar stores, check online dollar stores like Hollar.com.”
Freeman also suggested cherry-picking the best deals in fliers.
“Use apps to scan the weekly ads and snap up the 50-cent deals on pens, pencils and crayons at stores like Walmart and Staples,” she said.
How can parents buy now for the entire school year?
“Shop the warehouse stores,” said Freeman. “Costco and Sam’s Club are your best bet for heavily discounted bulk purchases of things you need to replenish often, such as computer paper (less than a penny a sheet) and plastic sandwich bags (2 cents a bag). Shop with another parent to split the cost of membership and bulk purchases.”
Clothes are always a big expense this time of year. How can parents save on them?
“Load up on T-shirts starting at just $5,” she said. “Stores like Five Below and Target have tons of super-cheap and super-cute graphic T-shirts, which are hot this year. [There are also] tanks for girls at only $3 and sneakers from Five Below are just $5.”
Freeman also said to “stock up on end-of-season bargains and hold off on fall wardrobes.”
“Wait for Columbus Day sales to load up on fall shoes and apparel as well as sporting goods,” she explained. “The next few weeks are best for closeouts on summer clothing, which your kids will be wearing for at least the first couple of months of school.”
What can parents hold off on buying now but save on later?
“Check for student discounts,” said Freeman. “Bring along those student IDs and take advantage of 10 to 15 percent student discounts at PacSun, Levi’s, H&M, Forever 21, J. Crew and many other stores.”
Tech is a big expense. What can parents do to bring those prices down?
“The No. 1 way to maximize your savings [is to] buy a refurb,” said Freeman. “A refurb can save you up to 60 percent or more. Just be sure to buy from reputable sellers, check return policies and read product descriptions. One of the biggest sellers of refurbs is Ebay.”
She also suggested checking for student discount programs.
“Go online to find out about the programs before you head into the stores,” she said. “Best Buy, Dell and Apple offer student deals that can save you hundreds of dollars. Also, you can get Microsoft Office Suite software for free with a student email address.”